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White beans are one of the many varieties of common beans domesticated in North and South America.

Several types exist, though the most common are cannellini beans, which are also called white kidney beans.

Tender, with an earthy, nutty flavor, they make a great addition to soups, stews, chilis, and other dishes.

This article reviews the nutrient profile, benefits, and uses of white beans.

Although cannellini beans are the most common kind of white bean, a few others are worth mentioning.

Navy beans, also called pea beans, are small, oval-shaped white beans. They’re a little milder in flavor and most commonly used for baked beans and certain soups.

Great Northern beans are smaller than cannellini beans but larger than navy beans. Known for their delicate, nutty flavor, they’re usually added to casseroles and soups.

Baby lima beans, or butterbeans, are small with a rich, creamy texture. Like other white beans, they’re common ingredients in casseroles, soups, and stews.

As all white beans are similar in flavor, you can use them interchangeably in recipes.

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White beans range in size and flavor profile, though cannellini beans tend to be the most popular.

White beans are a nutritional powerhouse, as they’re packed with fiber and protein and a good source of numerous micronutrients, including folate, magnesium, and vitamin B6.

A 1-cup (170-gram) serving of cooked white beans provides (1):

  • Calories: 242
  • Protein: 17 grams
  • Fat: 0.6 grams
  • Carbs: 44 grams
  • Fiber: 11 grams
  • Copper: 55% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Folate: 36% of the DV
  • Iron: 36% of the DV
  • Potassium: 21% of the DV
  • Thiamine: 17% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 28% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 26% of the DV
  • Zinc: 22% of the DV
  • Calcium: 16% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 12% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 6% of the DV
  • Selenium: 4% of the DV

As you can see, white beans are particularly rich in copper, folate, and iron.

Copper primarily aids energy production and iron metabolism, while folate is utilized in DNA synthesis. Iron has numerous important functions, including producing hemoglobin, which transports oxygen throughout your body.

What’s more, white beans are high in polyphenol antioxidants, which combat oxidative stress in your body. In turn, this may protect you against chronic illnesses, including heart disease and certain cancers (2).

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White beans provide a good source of protein, an excellent source of fiber, and several essential nutrients.

White beans are associated with various health benefits due to their rich nutrient content.

Loaded with protein

White beans are a good source of protein. When paired with a proper exercise regimen and nutritious diet, they can promote healthy muscle mass.

Amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, play a major role in many bodily processes, including muscle building, nutrient transport, and hormone production (3, 4, 5).

The Institute of Medicine links a daily protein intake of at least 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 grams per kg) to healthy muscle mass. That’s equal to 54 grams of protein for someone who weighs 150 pounds (68 kg) (6).

Legumes, including white beans, can serve as one of the primary protein sources for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet (7).

Yet, white beans aren’t a complete source of protein on their own, meaning that they don’t contain all nine essential amino acids your body requires.

Thus, pair them (either at the same meal or during the same day) with grains like rice, barley, corn, and wheat, which provide the other essential amino acids. Combinations of legumes and grains, such as beans and rice, are often referred to as complementary proteins (8).

Provide ample fiber

White beans are packed with fiber.

The daily recommendation for fiber is at least 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men, according to the Institute of Medicine (9).

Thus, a 1-cup (170-gram) serving of white beans — which boasts 11 grams of fiber — contains nearly half of the daily requirement for women and about a third of it for men.

High fiber diets are associated with improved digestive health and can help promote bowel regularity by increasing stool bulk and decreasing the time between bowel movements (10, 11).

Additionally, beans are high in resistant starch, which is fermented in your large intestine to produce beneficial compounds called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) (12).

In turn, SCFAs feed colon cells and play a role in the metabolism of carbs, fats, energy, and certain vitamins (12, 13).

Lastly, high fiber diets may boost heart health by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol (10, 14).

May promote a healthy body weight

White beans have a high nutrient density and fairly low calorie count. Combined with their high fiber and protein content, these attributes may promote a healthy body weight.

Foods high in fiber and protein have been shown to promote feelings of fullness, leaving you less likely to overeat (15, 16, 17).

Additionally, protein-rich foods are linked to reduced levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone. Over the long term, eating protein-rich foods may naturally lead you to consume fewer calories (18, 19).

Long-term research suggests that people who eat legumes regularly are 22% less likely to have obesity and 23% less likely to have excess belly fat than those who don’t eat them (15, 20).

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Regularly eating white beans may promote a healthy body weight, boost muscle mass, and support digestive health.

Due to their mild flavor, white beans are a versatile ingredient that can be added to numerous recipes, including stews, soups, chilis, and casseroles. They’re available dry or canned.

If you’re using dry beans, you should soak them in water for approximately 6–8 hours before cooking. For a quick alternative, boil them for 2 minutes, cover them with a lid, and let them sit for about 1 hour.

The soaking process allows them to soften and may reduce some of their digestive side effects, such as gas and bloating — though data on this is limited (21, 22, 23).

Keep in mind that canned beans may contain added salt, so you should check the product label — or seek out low sodium or salt-free options. You can also reduce their sodium content by rinsing them before use.

Shop for white beans online.

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If you buy dry beans, be sure to soak them before cooking, and if you buy them canned, look out for excess salt.

White beans serve as a staple ingredient in cuisines across the globe. Though they come in several varieties, cannellini beans tend to be the most popular.

Due to their high fiber and protein content, they may help support a healthy body weight, muscle mass, and digestion. In particular, they’re a great source of protein for vegans and vegetarians.

Just be sure to soak dry beans before cooking and mind the salt content when buying canned beans.